Matthew Launder

I’ve taken a short hiatus from writing this blog to attend to some serious life analysis. But now I’m back with a brand new outlook and ready to take on the world. To be perfectly honest, this means a lifestyle change in the form of extreme diet and exercise to aid in coping with relationship difficulties. As someone who’s never been particularly keen about taking care of myself—and in this case, that means a writer—I’ve discovered yet another reason to wake up everyday.

This entire process has followed a difficult break in my roller coaster of a relationship that some of you may or may not have read about in my previous columns. It’s been particularly difficult to cope with due to the fact that the break has come as a result of nothing negative between Courtney—who this blog is cleverly named after—and myself. In fact, it’s come more as a hiatus from our relationship to improve ourselves in hopes making one another better for the future and to get a better grasp on life. And herein lies the question that I would like to raise: Does this have a chance in hell of working?

At first I was weary. I love my girlfriend immensely and don’t want to spend even more time apart. And though we do spend a fair amount of time away from one another, and life seems to be leading us along at an arm’s length, this mutual decision was in hopes of making ourselves better for one another. And that means we’re doing it for the proper reasons, right? I realized that there is so much more to a functional, passionate relationship than meets the eye—such things as self-images, needs and wants in life, family issues and schedules, to name a few. In other words, can you truly and honestly love someone without truly and honestly loving yourself? I think that depends.

To be perfectly open and honest with yourself is the key to being perfectly open and honest with your other half. Imagine your significant other tells you how attractive you are on a daily basis. They constantly comment how good you look or how sexy they think you are. These sound like good things. And they are. But what if you hate the way you look? What if you dislike something about yourself so much that it affects how you interpret compliments? What if you can’t believe your boyfriend or girlfriend when they compliment you because your beliefs about your self-image impair that ability? I can only imagine it would be like parents still trying to tell their 19-year-old son or daughter that the presents under the tree are from Santa Claus. It’s not hard to call ‘bullshit’.

But is that the point? Should your own insecurities and negative self-image hamper yourself from appreciating what someone who cares about you honestly thinks? That’s a fine line to walk. I mentioned starting a rigorous diet and exercise routine to improve my own self-image and confidence during this break in my relationship. At the end of my last article, I was weighing in at nearly 250lbs. And I’m not a particularly tall fellow. I range in the 5’10”-5’11” area, depending on the moon or some bullshit. Having been told that I wore the weight well, it was still always nagging in the back of my mind that I was heavier than ever. However, I managed to stay reasonably healthy despite my weight. I played sports, avidly snowboarded, and can run an 8-minute mile comfortably—mostly. Although in addition to that, I could consider myself a professional drinker and love a bacon cheeseburger as much as the next American. My difficulties with staying healthy really evolved when I decided to be a writer. With a blooming career as a Hollywood screenwriter and novelist, I’ve given up a huge slice of the social-life pie to work hard and achieve what I have and to get where I have. And that required seemingly endless hours in a chair and writing. To be a professional writer, you must possess the ability to simply sit on your ass and write. But as soon as I moved from an A to a B-cup, I knew it was time to make a change. I had to find time for exercise and making healthier food choices to save my life.

I don’t know if this revelation of health and insight had more to do with my growing cleavage or a distraction from the uncertainty and hurt, but it’s working for me. It’s never easy to let someone slip away—even temporarily—who you are madly in love with. That said I had my fair share of teary nights drowning my sorrows away in a bottle of something strong because I missed her and felt I made a terrible mistake. And I think it was because I didn’t trust myself to genuinely use the time apart to change. And if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure if I could trust that she would either.

When it’s all said and done, though, I’m hoping that I continue to learn things about myself that I didn’t know and continue to grow. I see now why I agreed to this break, and even if things don’t end up working out, I will be every day. Because when the sun goes down, unless you are happy, I promise that you won’t be able to share that with anyone else. All you can do is make sure that you love yourself on a level that means you can love someone else just a little bit more. That, my friends, is love. And I’ll admit that I was a coward for not trusting the process at first. And who could blame me? But I have to admit something else: It feels pretty fuckin’ good.